Author(s): Haake SJ, Foster LI, James DM
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Abstract Improvements in track and field sports have been attributed to factors such as population increase, drugs and new technologies, but previous research has found it difficult to distinguish the contributions from specific influences. Here it is shown how this is possible by means of a performance improvement index based on useful work done combined with modelling of the annual top 25 performances. The index was set to 100 in 1948 and showed that, by 2012, it had increased in running events to between 110.5 and 146.7 (men's 100 m and marathon). Underlying global effects accounted for the majority of all improvements (16.2 to 46.7) with smaller influences attributable to an influx of African runners (3.6 to 9.3), and a 4-year oscillation that arose from staging of the Olympic Games (±0.2 to ±0.6). Performance decreased with the introduction of compulsory random drug testing (-0.9 to -3.9) the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA; -0.5 to -2.5) and fully automated timing (-0.6 to -2.5). Changes in elite sporting performance since the 1890s are attributable to societal changes caused by the industrial revolution and globalisation superimposed on millennia of human evolution.
This article was published in J Sports Sci
and referenced in Journal of Sports Medicine & Doping Studies